If the Guinness Book of Records were to track the most senseless attitude possible, the award would probably go to someone who committed suicide for fear of dying.
With the coronavirus epidemic, that is what the world is doing. It is playing out on the social scale, the very same chain reaction the SARS-CoV-2 virus1 triggers in its victims: An overreaction by the body’s immune system leads to blockage in the lungs and death by asphyxiation.
Apocalyptic Projections Based on Unreliable Mathematical Models
We can exemplify with Italy, the first Western nation attacked by the virus originating in China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) initially minimized the virus’s outbreak in Wuhan and congratulated the Chinese communist regime on its work to contain the epidemic. On February 17, however, through the Italian-American scientist Ira Longini, an important consultant, the WHO reversed itself. Based on statistical data provided by the Chinese leadership, it estimated that the virus would infect 66% of the planet’s 7.7 billion inhabitants, causing the death of 45–50 million people.
Transferring these projections to Italy, journalist Alberto Rossi calculated that if the country had not been more agile than others in isolating involuntary virus spreaders, the number of infected Italians would be in the 36–40 million range. He estimated the death toll would reach 400–450 thousand, equivalent to Italy’s dead during the Second World War: 330,000 soldiers and 130,000 civilians.2
Other journalists made even more apocalyptic calculations: “Suppose that in the end, only 30% are infected, close to 20 million”—imagined Francesco Sisci in the daily Il Sussidiario of March 9. “If—giving a discount—10% of them go into a [respiratory] crisis, that means that without intensive care therapy, they are bound to succumb. There would be two million direct deaths, plus all indirect ones resulting from a collapse of the health system.”3
A week later, Imperial College London released a team study led by Prof. Neil Ferguson. It became the pretext for many governments to impose extreme stay-at-home measures. The model predicted that, in the absence of such shelter-in-place orders, there would be approximately 510,000 deaths in the United Kingdom and 2.2 million in the United States, as it was a virus “with comparable lethality to H1N1 influenza in 1918 [the Spanish flu].”4 This was shocking information, but presumably exaggerated, one would think. A 2005 reconstruction of the Spanish flu virus carried out at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, as well as subsequent studies, showed that the Spanish flu was a hundred times more lethal than other forms of influenza seen in the twentieth century.5
Although initial information coming from Wuhan did not corroborate this claim about the virus’s extreme lethality, the Imperial College’s projections were taken almost as a “dogma of faith.” They led the British government to change its policy. The latter did not lift stay-at-home measures even when Prof. Ferguson, acknowledged in a tweet: “I’m conscious that lots of people would like to see and run the pandemic simulation code we are using to model control measures against COVID-19. To explain the background—I wrote the code (thousands of lines of undocumented C) 13+ years ago to model flu pandemics.”6
The revelation provoked hundreds of Twitter responses, pointing to the extreme vulnerability of this programming language, further weakened by its large number of undocumented lines, which make independent verification almost impossible.7 Ten days later, a University of Oxford team came up with an alternative model assuming that a much larger number of inhabitants of the British Isles would already be contaminated so that the lethality rate would be far lower.8
Time will tell which model will prove to be more accurate. In any case, an April 9 study issued by the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn presented a factual confirmation of the Oxford model. It denied the lethality rate that WHO and the Imperial College attributed to SARS-CoV-2. The study consisted of several in-depth tests carried out on people from the village of Gangelt, in the district of Heinsberg, the epidemic’s first focus in Germany. The daily Le Monde summarizes its results as follows: “A German study estimates a lower mortality rate. Surveys of 12,446 Gangelt residents show figures five times less than the original assessment. The researchers argue that this method identifies all infected people, including asymptomatic carriers.”
The study found that the population had a 15% infection rate, and the mortality rate was only 0.37%, which is five times lower than that assigned to Germany by Johns Hopkins University.9
In any case, it does not seem sensible for governments to take drastic measures, with enormous social and economic costs, based on mathematical models built on uncertain data. To prove it, let’s look again at Italy.
On the day these lines are written (April 20, 2020), the Civil Protection bulletin announced that, for the first time since the beginning of the crisis, both the number of people testing positive in the country and those in intensive care units in need of respiratory help had decreased. One can thus assume that the peak of the epidemic is behind us (except that the virus can mutate and cause a new epidemic wave, as happened with the H1N1 swine flu virus between 2009 and 2011).10
To date, Italy’s official death toll from COVID-19 is 23,660. Suppose that the virus does not mutate, and that number will double by the end of the year. The total number of deaths would amount to 47,000. That would be almost ten times fewer deaths than the least alarmist projection made at the beginning of the epidemic, and fifty times less than the most alarmist projection made a mere month ago.
Forty thousand deaths is a very high toll. It would be a tragedy for the victims and their families, and a severe blow to Italy. Nor would that tragedy be lessened by the fact that the average age for the deceased is 81 years old (mostly males) with pre-existing pathologies in two-thirds of the cases, according to data provided by Italy’s Istituto Superiore de Sanitá.11
Economic Consequences “of Biblical Proportions,” Visible to the Naked Eye
Now let us look at the medal’s flip side: The economic consequences resulting from the drastic “horizontal” stay-at-home measures adopted in a short period by Italy’s national and regional authorities to contain the epidemic and the overwhelming of hospitals’ ICUs.
According to the Italian Institute of Statistics, 2.2 million companies suspended their activities, 49% of the total. That led to a 34% production drop and a 27% added value drop. A total of 7.4 million employees were unable to work (44.3% of the entire workforce), of whom 4.9 million were simple wage earners (42%).12
This sudden halt in economic activity will lead to “a tragedy of biblical proportions,” predicts Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank in a column in the Financial Times. It is the biggest crisis in the real economy in the last hundred years. According to investment bank Goldman Sachs, Italian GDP will fall 11.6% in 2020.13 For Gustavo Boni, a European official, the contraction of Italian GDP will be between 12.5% and 15%, with an 85% drop in gross fixed capital stock and a 38% drop in domestic employment income. In turn, public debt will amount to 160% of GDP. That was Greece’s level when it was bailed out by the EU.14
Added up, this means that, once stay-at-home orders are lifted, millions of Italian workers risk finding their companies’ doors locked, and thousands of artisans and retailers could join the large numbers of the unemployed or file for bankruptcy. In the tourism sector alone (13% of Italian GDP), the economic newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore calculates that “almost one million jobs are at risk.”15
Maurizio Gardini, president of Confcooperative, one of the main associations of Italian cooperatives, says that when Italy lifts the shutdown, at least 20% (close to one million) of medium and small companies will be dead in the water. The consequences in terms of lost income, unemployment, and social unrest are indescribable.16 A study by the Italian statistics agency (ISTAT) holds that the lockdown of productive activities will generate “the collapse of consumer and business confidence.”17
Italy is not an isolated case. Authorities in neighboring France have taken similar shutdown measures, based on equally alarmist projections of contagion and deaths. The consequences are similar as well. According to INSEE, the French statistics institute, economic activity fell 36%, while in the private sector, the drop was even greater (42%). In fact, 6.9 million private-sector employees are at home receiving partial unemployment assistance, and household consumption dropped by 35%.18
The economist and historian Nicolas Baverez said in his weekly column in the daily Le Figaro that “two months of confinement will leave France with a 10% drop in its GDP, a deficit of 12% to 15% and a public debt of more than 120% of GDP. Thousands of companies will go bankrupt, notably the smallest ones, and many of the 8.7 million partially unemployed will never get their jobs back, resulting in the growth of poverty.”19 (In fact, the Minister of Labor announced that 9.6 million private-sector employees are currently “protected” by partial unemployment benefits. That is almost half of the entire labor force).20
According to Bruno Le Maire, French Economy Minister, in 2020, the country will experience its biggest recession since World War II.21 Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared in the National Assembly that the economic impact linked to the coronavirus will be “massive” and “brutal,” giving rise to “an economic shock that everyone imagines, but whose total impact no one yet knows.”22
If these are the forecasts for two countries whose economies are among the world’s most developed, one can only imagine what will be the impact from the SARS-CoV-2 blocking of economic activities for the rest of the world.
The Devastating Social Impact of the “Great Shutdown”: the Pandemic of Extreme Poverty
On April 9, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, declared we would see “the worst economic consequences since the Great Depression” of 1929, causing a drop in income per inhabitant in over 179 countries. The senior official added that poor or emerging countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America “are at high risk,” all the more so as capital is migrating out of them at a rate three times faster than the 2008 financial crisis, which will trigger liquidity and solvency problems.23
Just five days later, the I.M.F. released its forecasts regarding what it called “the Great Shutdown”: a contraction of 3% of world GDP in 2020, with Europe and the United States being the most affected by the depression (-7.5% and -6.5% respectively). It does not rule out the possibility of an even more brutal drop in 2021. The social effect of the recession will be severe, with unemployment in the Eurozone increasing by 40% (reaching 9.2%) and tripling in the U.S.A. to reach 10.4% of the total workforce.24
“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe,” stated Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labor Organization. The I.L.O. did indeed release an April 7 report, saying that “the crisis is causing an unprecedented reduction in economic activity and working time. As of 1 April 2020, estimates indicate that working hours will decline in the current quarter (Q2) by around 6.7 percent, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.”25
Huge losses are expected at all income levels but especially in high to middle-income countries (7% loss, equivalent to 100 million full-time workers), which is much greater than the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. The sectors most affected will be hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, retailing, administrative activities, and services. The ILO report states that there is a high risk that the final figure will be much higher than the initial projection of 25 million unemployed.26
This figure of 25 million certainly was extremely optimistic, since a study by the African Union suggested that Africa alone would see the suppression of 20 million jobs, and indebtedness would escalate.27 As far as the United States is concerned, it went from almost full employment in February “to mass unemployment expected to reach 20% in April. In less than a month, 22 million jobs have disappeared,” says the Figaro’s Washington correspondent.28
The global result will be an exponential increase in extreme poverty. “I see no historical equivalent to the threat that COVID-19 poses to the most vulnerable populations,” said Robin Guittard, Oxfam campaign manager in France.29 In a study released on April 8, researchers at King’s College London and the National University of Australia predict that the pandemic could bring extreme poverty to half a billion of the planet’s inhabitants, destroying the progress made in the past three decades.30
The Increase in Deaths From Hunger in Poor Countries Will Be Much Greater Than That of COVID-19 Victims
The consequences of this exponential increase in poverty on the health of impoverished populations will be disastrous. Even the World Health Organization, the biggest promoter of strict stay-at-home measures, recognizes that there is a close link between extreme poverty and poor health. In a study published in conjunction with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it recognizes the obvious, namely, that “The poor suffer worse health and die younger. They have higher than the average child and maternal mortality, higher levels of disease, and more limited access to health care and social protection.”31
Consequently, more than 3.42 million people died of hunger in the first months of 2020, a daily average of 30,800 deaths. That is, almost five times more than the global number of deaths by COVID-19 on April 5, the day registering the highest number of fatalities (6,367 victims) worldwide so far.
The World Food Program predicts that the loss of tourism revenues, the decrease in remittances and travel and other restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic will double the number of poor people suffering from acute hunger, adding 130 million to the approximately 135 million already existing in that category. “‘COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,’ said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment, and monitoring at the World Food Programme (WFP).”32 David Beasly, WFP Executive Director, exclaimed in an interview with The Guardian: “Now, my goodness, this is a perfect storm. We are looking at widespread famines of biblical proportions.”33
Statistically, this increase in acute hunger resulting from the economic collapse caused by confinement measures could be responsible for 30,000 additional daily deaths. A sizable share of those deaths would probably have been avoided if instead of listening to WHO ayatollahs and media icons, the authorities had listened to the opinions of other experts who suggested vertical isolation or smart virus control measures. In so doing, they would protect the population at risk (the elderly and people with serious underlying diseases) and quarantining those infected by the virus after carrying out thousands of tests.34
This is not an unrealistic alternative. This plan was highly successful in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Georgia, and Iceland.35 In the first three Asian countries mentioned and in Japan, work stoppages affected only 10% of the active population.36 The effectiveness of this strategy so far has been largely demonstrated. The total number of deaths in these four countries, with a combined population of 257.4 million people, today amounts to only 489, which corresponds to a mortality rate of 1.9 victims per million. In contrast, in Italy, despite the horizontal insulation strategy followed, where the entire population was ordered to stay at home, the figure was 391.32 victims per million (23,660 deceased), that is, 205 times more!
A March 19 editorial in The Wall Street Journal put it well, three days after the release of the Imperial College’s fantasy projections and even before the Oxford University report. It was titled “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown: No Society Can Safeguard Public Health for Long at the Cost of Its Economic Health.”37
It is a pity that neither this editorial nor the above figures were shown to government officials who, driven by the good intention of saving lives and advised by WHO directors and Imperial College researchers, decided to halt “non-essential” economic operations in their countries. The impact of this paralysis will be all the more acute as “isolation, even if intermittent, should go on until 2022 in several parts of the world if a vaccine does not appear,” according to the magazine Isto é, referencing “a study by Harvard University, published in the journal Science.”38
In the Name of “Social Distancing,” WHO Sacrifices Children in Poor Countries
In this hasty decision to order everyone to stay at home, there is yet another shocking revelation.
On March 26, the World Health Organization published a document titled “Guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It states that, based on “the recommended prevention measures of physical distancing, it is advised to temporarily suspend the conduct of mass vaccination campaigns due to the increased risk of promoting community circulation.”39
Following this recommendation, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has suspended its vaccination campaign. However, its scientific advisers estimate that this will increase the number of paralysis in children and that some countries free from this infectious disease will become infected again. According to the Madrid daily El País, polio is just one of many vaccinations that have been suspended in Africa. “Writing in Science, journalist Leslie Roberts documents that millions of children have been deprived of their polio, measles, papilloma, yellow fever, cholera, and meningitis vaccines. There is talk of 14 million, but it is a low estimate, certainly very low.”40
According to Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control, 23 countries have already stopped their measles campaigns, and another 16 are considering doing so even though it kills 3% to 6% of those infected (multiples more than COVID-19), and that the majority of its victims are malnourished children.
Facing what the Spanish newspaper calls the “devil’s dilemma,” authorities in most rich countries have chosen, like it or not, to spare potential COVID-19 victims (perhaps because they are a majority of voters) and to sacrifice children in poor countries. These will die or become disabled because of WHO’s irresponsible guidance.41
Given these data, would the reader not agree with us that the contemporary world is committing suicide for fear of dying from COVID-19? That is happening thanks to the irresponsibility of the WHO, political leaders, and media, which created the ongoing hysteria.
That is so obvious that a question naturally surfaces: Who benefits from this collective suicide in our contemporary society?
The Four Main Beneficiaries of This Collective Suicide
From a geopolitical point of view, the major beneficiary of the crisis generated by the epidemic that started in Wuhan was China’s Communist regime itself. But, within Western societies, three ideological currents (all of which, by the way, have shown themselves to be the great champions of extreme stay-at-home measures) will be its main beneficiaries: radical ecologists, world governance advocates, and the radical left.
1. The Communist Party of China
Despite the huge responsibility of China’s communist rulers for the still unclarified origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its spread in Wuhan and the entire Hubei province,42 its greatest beneficiary, both internally and externally, is undoubtedly the communist regime in Beijing. John Gray, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, summarizes it in an article for the NewStatesman:
No one knows the full human costs of the Chinese shutdown. Even so, Xi Jinping’s regime looks to have benefited from the pandemic. The virus has provided a rationale for expanding the surveillance state and introducing even stronger political control. Instead of wasting the crisis, Xi is using it to expand the country’s influence. China is inserting itself in place of the EU by assisting distressed national governments, such as Italy. Many of the masks and testing kits it has supplied have proved to be faulty, but the fact seems not to have dented Beijing’s propaganda campaign. . . .
The Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic has been blunter and more realistic: “European solidarity does not exist . . . that was a fairy tale. The only country that can help us in this hard situation is the People’s Republic of China. To the rest of them, thanks for nothing.”43
Bolivarian left-wing currents support this diplomatic and ideological expansion of Chinese influence. For example, Brazilian activist Paola Estrada, a member of Secretariat of the International Peoples Assembly, and also of the Brazilian chapter of ALBA Movements (Continental Coordination of Social Movements toward the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). She attests:
It is becoming increasingly obvious that during the pandemic, China has taken on a much more prominent role than before in the economic and commercial spheres, as well as in the political and ideological aspects. It is still difficult to project scenarios for the outcome of this process. However, it is undeniable that the Chinese government has been applauded worldwide for its capacity, effectiveness, and speed in facing the advance of the epidemic in China. They did so by enforcing measures of social isolation, building hospitals, manufacturing tests and hospital supplies, qualifying professionals, and investing in science and technology. . . . In times of pandemic, when we have to deal with so many changes, uncertainties, sadness, and attacks by the right and imperialism, the example of the Venezuelan people, the Cuban people, and the Chinese people fill our hearts with the hope that another world is possible.44
Soon after governments implemented stay at home measures, ecologists shouted loud and clear that it had been proven that in the face of a global threat, it was possible to impose drastic measures affecting the daily life of whole populations.45 They suggested that, once the health crisis is over, it would be illogical not to declare a climate emergency and impose equally drastic measures to decrease CO2 production.46
In Spain, five associations (Amigos de la Tierra, Greenpeace, Ecologistas en Acción, SEO/BirdLife, and WWF) addressed the European Commission and the Spanish government. They requested that the relief and stimulus packages meant to reactivate the economy be used to “speed up the transition to a carbon-free and green economy.” The distribution of funds should penalize “those most unsustainable activities” and be conditional on a commitment “to stop the loss of biodiversity” and favor “decarbonization.”47
Furthermore, the “European Alliance for a Green Recovery” was born at the initiative of MEP Pascal Confin. It includes 180 European leaders (79 MEPs from 17 countries, 37 top managers of multinational corporations, 28 business associations, and seven NGOs, in addition to groups of experts). Its purpose is to promote a “green” solution to the coronavirus economic crisis and to “unleash a new European economic model.” Since, for the Alliance, the “core element of economic strategy” must be “the fight against climate change,” the “massive investments” to be made to save the economy must align with “ecological principles.” The Alliance supports a letter that 13 European Union Environment and Climate Ministers sent to Brussels demanding that the Green Pact proposed by the newly empowered von der Leyen Commission be retained.48
As soon as European countries began to close their borders and take protective measures, “open society” advocates started to proclaim that the only solution for the pandemic would be a coordinated global response. Meanwhile, the nations bickered among themselves over the defective masks and test kits that China had “generously” sent.
Bill Gates published in several newspapers a column titled “A Global Strategy Against COVID-19,” saying that although governments have provided national responses, their leaders must recognize that as long as the virus is present somewhere, “it will be a problem for the entire world.” He added that “we need a global response to fighting the disease” so that financial and medical resources (face masks, test kits, etc.) are distributed effectively, and countries commit to following WHO guidelines.49
For his part, Antônio Guterres, former president of the Socialist International and current UN secretary-general, presented a special report titled “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.” In it, he asks that at least 10% of world GDP be allocated to a solidarity fund to resolve the crisis.50
Gordon Brown, a former British Labor Prime Minister, gave the last touch to the package by suggesting no less than some provisional form of global government to face the twin, medical and economic crises: “What we need is a working executive.”51 He is now acting as a UN special envoy for global education. And in an interview with El País, he reiterated:
We need a [summit] with commitments to provide the health emergency with the necessary funds. . . . And secondly, an Executive Task Force [a team with executive powers] at the G20, because good words are no longer enough. We need to take action in the coming days and do so in a coordinated manner. An executive body is needed to respond to the problem that you [the journalist] mention on [criticism] of international institutions. . . . Shared political leadership is needed.
According to Brown, in the current phase of efforts to preserve jobs, a national response may suffice. Still, in the next phase,
we will need fiscal coordination, monetary coordination, and collaboration between the different central banks. And I am not just talking about a model like the EU. I refer to the global scope. . . . In the growth phase, we will need a coordinated effort of fiscal stimulus around the world.52
In Latin America, the so-called Puebla Group made up of presidents, former presidents (e.g., Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff, etc.) and socialist-oriented political, academic, and union leaders, published a statement. The signatories asserted that the current crisis “has no other solution than integrating Latin America and the Caribbean, and cooperating at the global level.” In this operation, the statement continued, the WHO “must play an even more important role than today.”
The document invited “governments, organizations, and peoples of the world, when the pandemic ends, to make a serene reflection on a New Development Model that prioritizes previously unknown values such as the environment, social inclusion, reducing inequality, food security, military disarmament, multilateralism, and fiscal progressivity.”53
4. The Radical Left
In turn, the radical left is lying in wait to surf the wave. In an article published in Intercept, writer and activist Naomi Klein explained that in the last two decades, she learned that “During moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes a reality.”54
Along the same line, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek maintained that “the coronavirus will force us to reinvent communism based on trust in people and science.” It would not be like the communism of the past. Rather, it would be “some kind of global organization that can control and regulate the economy, as well as limit the sovereignty of nation-states.” The Italian philosopher Franco Berardi Bifo would not be outdone: “Is there anyone who does not like this logic because it recalls communism? Well, if there are no more modern words, we will still use this one, old indeed, but always very beautiful.”55
The radical left is acting coherently. It is openly proposing the nationalization of electric and telecommunications companies, private hospitals, hotels, etc. Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos party and vice-president of the current Spanish coalition government, stated it eloquently during a meeting of his crisis cabinet.56
Even more troubling is the fact that representatives of the Establishment are taking up proposals made until now by the radical left, such as a “universal basic income.” Note that the proposed monthly check from the government is not limited to temporary aid to unemployed workers due to economic or financial crisis. All sensible people, ranging from an analyst of the Acton Institute57 to the secretary of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference,58 consider that necessary. Nor does universal basic income correspond to Milton Friedman’s ‘helicopter money’ metaphor aimed at solving an economy’s temporary liquidity problems.59 In reality, it is a permanent minimum wage distributed to the entire population, each person being able to choose whether or not he wants to work. The measure would supposedly guarantee the individual’s total “emancipation.”
A “universal basic income” was the central plank in the platform of Benoît Hamon, the French Socialist Party’s unsuccessful candidate for the presidency, in the recent elections. He took advantage of the epidemic to relaunch this proposal, claiming that “the universal wage for existence is an incomparable tool for emancipation. . . . Freeing everyone from exclusive dependence on salary earned at work, the universal wage gives each individual the ability to negotiate and choose. . . . Social emancipation goes through this individual practice of freedom. . . . The crisis will give birth to a new world.”60
In an open letter published in the London newspaper The Independent, no fewer than 500 academics and political leaders, mainly from the United Kingdom and the United States, called for the implementation of this universal basic income. They stated that “Without drastic government intervention, countless numbers will suffer, businesses will close, unemployment will skyrocket, and the economy will go into a steep recession and possibly even a second Great Depression.” Therefore, “an unconditional basic income should play a central role in the emergency response to this crisis.”61 However, as far as we are concerned, this cure is worse than the disease.62
Beppe Grillo, the former comedian and founder of Italy’s Five Star Movement, signed on to this open letter. In addressing the issue of universal basic income, he declared: “The emergency we are experiencing could favor a historic, revolutionary change that many always superficially considered as crazy, but which could change our future for the better.”63
A “New World” Imposed by Law . . . or by Force!
Some firebrands want to precipitate this revolutionary change in a violent way. For example, congressman Guillaume Larrivée, from the center-right party Les Républicains (of former President Sarkozy), wrote a column in the newspaper L’Opinion. He speculated that, in France, “the brutality of the economic and financial outbreak would fuel a social revolt based on a fertile ground of concerns and demands already very much alive (as shown by ‘yellow vest protesters’ and the challenge to retirement reform in the last two years). That would reopen the wounds of class and generational struggle, as well as territorial disputes in the ‘French archipelago,’ kindling fiery riots.” The French parliamentarian concludes: “I write without exaggeration: France would then be on the way to civil war.”64
A report by the Central Territorial Intelligence Service (the French equivalent of the FBI) confirmed the French congressman’s pessimistic prediction. It warned of a risk of social upheaval at the end of the lockdown. “Confinement prevents manifestations of popular discontent, but the anger does not diminish, and the highly criticized crisis management fuels the protests,” says the report. Intelligence officers fear the creation of “fight committees” in urban peripheries and action by sectors of the extreme left to foster a “transversality of the struggles” [spreading them across the population].65
Indeed, disturbances have already started. “A non-exhaustive list of episodes of urban violence recorded between April 12 and April 19 includes Le Havre, Évreux, Bordeaux, Villiers-sur-Marne, Mantes-la-Jolie, Chanteloup-les-Vignes, Villeneuve-la-Garenne, La Courneuve, Trappes, Grigny,” informs Le Figaro. “Ambushes are methodically prepared . . . with the storage of projectiles, mortars, and barricades to make the ‘buzz’ on social media.” They observe the reactivity of the police and they mobilized personnel. The objective is clear: To assert that this is their territory and that they control it, a veteran police officer from a “sensitive sector” explains to the newspaper. The police have only one certainty: At the slightest incident, immediately denounced as a “police abuse,” riots erupt, with multiple calls for reprisals on social networks, the Parisian newspaper adds.66
The situation could evolve rapidly from some early protests with controllable violence such as last year’s “yellow vest” protests to massive and uncontrollable ones such as those in Santiago, Valparaíso, and other Chilean cities. These forced the government to yield to leftist pressure and to start a process that could result in the adoption of a Bolivarian-style constitution by a country that until recently boasted the highest per capita income in Latin America.
A Transitory “Window of Opportunity” That the Organizers of the “New World” do not Want to Miss
If this scenario worsens, the disturbances will serve as an argument to accelerate programs to socialize the economy through legal means. In any case, the three ideological currents mentioned above—ecologism, globalism, and radical left—are unanimous in affirming categorically: “Nothing will ever be the same again.”
From where do the representatives of ideological currents with hitherto fringe importance at the ballot box derive so much self-assurance? Perhaps it stems from hopes that they will overcome their ongoing differences. Above all, though, they know they can rely on two factors that completely open up for them an unexpected “window of opportunity”: The population’s fear of the worsening or eventual second wave of the pandemic, and the moral support that Pope Francis has been giving to their agendas.
1. Throughout this document, except for quotes from other sources, we will employ the correct technical terms. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 designates the virus currently in circulation, and COVID-19 the disease it causes.
2. Alberto Rossi, “Coronavirus, l’allarme delle esperti: “Un terzo del mondo sarà contagiato. Milioni i morti,” Teleclubitalia.it, Feb. 17, 2020, https://www.teleclubitalia.it/185547/coronavirus-lallarme-delle-esperti-un-terzo-del-mondo-sara-contagiato-milioni-i-morti/.
3. Francesco Sisci, “Scenario Coronavirus/ L’Italia non è la Cina, ma deve cambiare passo: con la Nato,” Mar. 9, 2020, https://www.ilsussidiario.net/news/scenario-coronavirus-litalia-non-e-la-cina-ma-deve-cambiare-passo-con-la-nato/1994403/.
4. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, “Report 9: Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand,” Imperial.ac.uk, 3, Mar. 16, 2020, https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf.
5. See Douglas Jordan, Terrence Tumpey, and Barbara Jester, “The Deadliest Flu: The Complete Story of the Discovery and Reconstruction of the 1918 Pandemic Virus,” CDC.gov, accessed Apr. 27, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html.
6. Neil Ferguson, Twitter, accessed Apr. 26, 2020, https://twitter.com/neil_ferguson/status/1241835454707699713.
7. See Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford, “Coronavirus Lessons From the Asteroid That Didn’t Hit Earth,” The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 1, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-lessons-from-the-asteroid-that-didnt-hit-earth-11585780465.
8. See Matt Stieb, “Oxford Model: Coronavirus May Have Already Infected Half of U.K. Population,” New York Intelligencer, Mar. 24, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/oxford-study-coronavirus-may-have-infected-half-of-u-k.html.
9. Thomas Wider, “Coronavirus : une étude dans le principal foyer de l’épidémie en Allemagne revoit le taux de mortalité à la baisse,” Le Monde, Apr. 10, 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2020/04/10/coronavirus-une-etude-allemande-revoit-a-la-baisse-le-taux-de-mortalite_6036206_3244.html.
10. See Anna Otte, Anthony C. Marriott, Carola Dreier, et al. “Evolution of 2009 H1N1 Influenza Viruses During the Pandemic Correlates With Increased Viral Pathogenicity and Transmissibility in the Ferret Model,” Nature, Jun. 24, 2016, https://www.nature.com/articles/srep28583.
11. “Coronavirus, il quadro clinico dei deceduti in Italia,” Tg24.Sky.it, Mar. 6, 2020, https://tg24.sky.it/salute-e-benessere/2020/03/06/coronavirus-deceduti-italia.html.
12. Chiara Lanari, “Coronavirus, drammatiche previsioni Istat: rischio shock economico,” Investireoggi, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.investireoggi.it/economia/coronavirus-drammatiche-previsioni-istat-rischio-shock-economico/.
13. Bruno Perini, “COVID-19: depressione economica, c’è chi sente già l’odore,” SenzaFiltro, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.informazionesenzafiltro.it/covid-19-depressione-economica-ce-chi-sente-gia-lodore/.
14. Gustavo Boni, “La crisi del coronavirus: che ne sarà di noi?” Osservatorioglobalizzazione.it, Apr. 6, 2020, http://osservatorioglobalizzazione.it/dossier/coronavirus-sfide-e-scenari/la-crisi-del-coronavirus-che-ne-sara-di-noi/.
15. Perini, “Depressione economica,” https://www.informazionesenzafiltro.it/covid-19-depressione-economica-ce-chi-sente-gia-lodore/.
16. Paolo Baroni, “Coronavirus “choc epocale”: in Italia a rischio 1 milione di imprese,” La Stampa, Apr. 7, 2020, https://www.lastampa.it/economia/lavoro/2020/04/07/news/coronavirus-choc-epocale-in-italia-a-rischio-1-milione-di-imprese-1.38689190.
17. Lanari, “Rischio shock economico,”https://www.investireoggi.it/economia/coronavirus-drammatiche-previsioni-istat-rischio-shock-economico/.
18. Marc Vignaud, “Coronavirus : l’activité chute de 36 % en France,” Le Point, Apr. 9, 2020, https://www.lepoint.fr/economie/coronavirus-l-activite-chute-de-36-en-france-09-04-2020-2370770_28.php#.
19. Nicolas Baverez, “‘Le déconfinement, une urgence nationale,’” Le Figaro, Apr. 19, 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/nicolas-baverez-le-deconfinement-une-urgence-nationale-20200419.
20. Océane Herrero, “9,6 millions de salariés du privé sont au chômage partiel, annonce Muriel Pénicaud,” Le Figaro, Apr. 20, 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-eco/9-6-millions-de-salaries-du-prive-sont-au-chomage-partiel-annonce-muriel-penicaud-20200420.
21. Audrey Tonnelier, “Les conséquences, par secteur économique, du confinement des Français,” Le Monde, Apr. 7, 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2020/04/07/les-consequences-par-secteur-economique-du-confinement-des-francais_6035832_823448.html.
22. “Coronavirus : l’impact économique de l’épidémie sera «considérable», prévient Philippe,” Le Parisien, Apr. 8, 2020, http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/coronavirus-l-impact-economique-de-l-epidemie-sera-considerable-previent-philippe-08-04-2020-8296404.php.
23. “Le coronavirus provoque ‘les pires conséquences économiques’ depuis 1929, prévient le FMI,” L’Obs, Apr. 9, 2020, https://www.nouvelobs.com/coronavirus-de-wuhan/20200409.OBS27303/le-coronavirus-provoque-les-pires-consequences-economiques-depuis-1929-previent-le-fmi.html
24. Julien Bouissou, “Coronavirus : le FMI prédit une récession mondiale historique, avec un recul de la croissance estimé à 3% en 2020,” Le Monde, Apr. 14, 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2020/04/14/coronavirus-le-fmi-predit-une-recession-mondiale-historique-avec-un-recul-de-la-croissance-estime-a-3-en-2020_6036559_3234.html
25. “COVID-19 and the world of work.”Second edition. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_740877.pdf.
27. Anne Cheyvialle, “Le Covid-19 provoque une envolée du chômage dans le monde,” Le Monde, Apr. 7, 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/social/coronavirus-1-25-milliard-de-travailleurs-courent-un-risque-de-licenciement-ou-de-reduction-de-salaire-selon-l-oit-20200407.
28. Pierre-Yves Dugua, “Le Covid-19 met à terre l’économie américaine,” Le Figaro, Apr. 16, 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/le-covid-19-met-a-terre-l-economie-americaine-20200416.
29. Sébastian Seibt, “Coronavirus: 500 millions de personnes menacées par la pauvreté, ‘aucun équivalent historique,’” France24.com, Apr. 9, 2020, https://www.france24.com/fr/20200409-coronavirus-500-millions-de-personnes-menac%C3%A9es-par-la-pauvret%C3%A9-aucun-%C3%A9quivalent-historique.
30. Bouissou, “le FMI prédit une récession,” https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2020/04/14/coronavirus-le-fmi-predit-une-recession-mondiale-historique-avec-un-recul-de-la-croissance-estime-a-3-en-2020_6036559_3234.html.
31. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and World Health Organization, “Poverty and Health,” [DAC Guidelines and Reference Series], WHO.int, 14, accessed Apr. 27, 2020, https://www.who.int/tobacco/research/economics/publications/oecd_dac_pov_health.pdf.
32. “Global Hunger Could Double Due to COVID-19 Blow: U.N.,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-un-food/global-hunger-could-double-due-to-covid-19-blow-u-n-idUSKBN22313U.
33. Fiona Harvey, “Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Will Cause Famine of Biblical Proportions,’” The Guardian, Apr. 21, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/21/coronavirus-pandemic-will-cause-famine-of-biblical-proportions.
34. See, for example, Peter-Philipp Schmitt, „Wir haben neue Symptome entdeckt“ Frankfurter Allgemeine, Mar. 6, 2020, https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/gesundheit/coronavirus/neue-corona-symptome-entdeckt-virologe-hendrik-streeck-zum-virus-16681450.html and Hugo Martin, “Para un prestigioso científico argentino, ‘el coronavirus no merece que el planeta esté en un estado de parate total,’” Infobae, Mar. 28, 2020, https://www.infobae.com/coronavirus/2020/03/28/para-un-prestigioso-cientifico-argentino-el-coronavirus-no-merece-que-el-planeta-este-en-un-estado-de-parate-total/.
35. See Audrey Wison, “The Countries That Are Succeeding at Flattening the Curve,” Foreign Policy, Apr. 2, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/02/countries-succeeding-flattening-curve-coronavirus-testing-quarantine/.
36. Stefano Magni, “Lockdown: gli italiani sono i più reclusi del mondo,” La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Apr. 15, 2020, https://lanuovabq.it/it/lockdown-gli-italiani-sono-i-piu-reclusi-del-mondo.
37. The Editorial Board, “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown,” The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 19, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/rethinking-the-coronavirus-shutdown-11584659154.
39. World Health Organization, “Guiding Principles for Immunization Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic, WHO.int, Mar. 26, 2020, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331590/WHO-2019-nCoV-immunization_services-2020.1-eng.pdf. (Emphasis in the original.)
40. Javier Sampedro, “El dilema del diablo,” El País, Apr. 10, 2020, https://elpais.com/ciencia/2020-04-10/el-dilema-del-diablo.html
42. Julio Loredo, “Le grandi lezioni di un piccolo essere,” Associazione Tradizione Famiglia Proprietà, accessed Apr. 28, 2020, http://atfp.it/varie/1722-le-grandi-lezioni-di-un-piccolo-essere.
43. John Gray, “Why This Crisis Is a Turning Point in History,” NewStatesman, Apr. 1, 2020, https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/04/why-crisis-turning-point-history.
44. Paola Estrada, “Guerra ao imperialismo e ao coronavírus na América Latina,” MST, Apr. 10, 2020, https://mst.org.br/2020/04/10/guerra-ao-imperialismo-e-ao-coronavirus-na-america-latina/.
45. François Gemenne and Anneliese Depoux, “‘De la crise du coronavirus, on peut tirer des leçons pour lutter contre le changement climatique,’” Le Monde, Mar. 18, 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/03/18/de-la-crise-du-coronavirus-on-peut-tirer-des-lecons-pour-lutter-contre-le-changement-climatique_6033464_3232.html; see also Beth Gardiner, “Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change,” e360.Yale.edu, Mar. 23, 2020, https://e360.yale.edu/features/coronavirus-holds-key-lessons-on-how-to-fight-climate-change.
46. Gemenne and Depoux, “‘De la crise du coronavirus,’”https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/03/18/de-la-crise-du-coronavirus-on-peut-tirer-des-lecons-pour-lutter-contre-le-changement-climatique_6033464_3232.html
47. Blanca Ruibal, Luis Rico García-Amado, Mario Rodríguez, Asunción Ruiz, and Juan Carlos del Olmo, “Una reconstrucción económica por la salud del planeta y de las personas,” El País, Apr. 19, 2020, https://elpais.com/sociedad/2020-04-19/una-reconstruccion-economica-por-la-salud-del-planeta-y-de-las-personas.html.
48. Manuel Planelles, “Nace una gran alianza europea para defender una salida verde a la crisis económica del coronavirus,” El País, Apr. 14, 2020, https://elpais.com/sociedad/2020-04-14/nace-una-gran-alianza-europea-para-defender-una-salida-verde-a-la-crisis-economica-del-corononavirus.html.
49. Bill Gates, “Una estrategia mundial contra la Covid-19,” El País, Apr. 11, 2020, https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/04/11/opinion/1586600730_628755.html.
50. Jeanne Smits, “Coronavirus: le rapport de l’ONU qui annonce la globalisation des solutions en vue d’une société ‘plus égalitaire et plus inclusive,’” Reinformation.TV, Apr. 9, 2020, https://reinformation.tv/coronavirus-rapport-onu-globalisation-smits-90558-2/; see also “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity:Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19,” UNSDG.UN.org, Mar. 2020, https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/SG-Report-Socio-Economic-Impact-of-Covid19.pdf.
51. Larry Elliott, “Gordon Brown Calls for Global Government to Tackle Coronavirus,” The Guardian, Mar. 26, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/26/gordon-brown-calls-for-global-government-to-tackle-coronavirus.
52. Rafa de Miguel, “Gordon Brown: “No bastan las buenas palabras. Necesitamos un G20 con poderes ejecutivos que pase a la acción,” El País, Apr. 18, 2020, https://elpais.com/ideas/2020-04-18/no-bastan-las-buenas-palabras-necesitamos-un-g20-con-poderes-ejecutivos-que-pase-a-la-accion.html.
53. “Declaração—III Reunião do Grupo de Puebla—Progressismo é Humanidade,” Grupo de Puebla, Apr. 10, 2020, https://pt.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/declaracion-final-encuentro-virtual-grupo-de-puebla.pdf.
54. Naomi Klein, “Coronavirus Capitalism—And How to Beat It,” The Intercept, Mar. 16, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/03/16/coronavirus-capitalism/.
55. Nicola Mirenzi, “Il Virus Dell’Avvenire. Slavoj Zizek e il Bisogno di ‘un Nuovo Comunismo,’” HuffingtonPost.it, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.huffingtonpost.it/entry/il-virus-dellavvenire_it_5e8d7c80c5b6e1a2e0fc234d
56. Isabel Acosta and Carmen Obregón, “Iglesias quiso aprovechar la alarma para nacionalizar eléctricas y hospitales,” El Economista, Mar. 16, 2020, 6, https://s03.s3c.es/pdf/f/a/fa5c6ca439283c3e816c577d39ad2f4a_superlunes.pdf.
57. Michael Severance, “Reddito universale? Non bastano le buone intenzioni,” La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Apr. 22, 2020, https://lanuovabq.it/it/reddito-universale-non-bastano-le-buone-intenzioni.
58. “Responder a la emergencia y evitar la dependencia,” Cope, Apr. 21, 2020, https://www.cope.es/actualidad/linea-editorial/noticias/responder-emergencia-evitar-dependencia-20200421_690206.
59. See Mark Gilbert, “Helicopter Money,” Bloomberg.com, Aug. 30, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/helicopter-money.
60. “Benoît Hamon: ‘Notre société s’est lourdement trompée en préférant les biens aux liens,’” Le Monde, Apr. 16, 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2020/04/16/benoit-hamon-notre-societe-s-est-lourdement-trompee-en-preferant-les-biens-aux-liens_6036725_3232.html.
61. “Why More Than 500 Political Figures and Academics Globally Have Called for Universal Basic Income in the Fight Against Coronavirus,” Independent, Mar. 18, 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/coronavirus-universal-basic-income-ubi-poverty-economy-business-migrants-a9408846.html.
62. Financial analyst Maurizio Milano made a lucid criticism of the “wartime socialism” that these academics and leaders advocate by calling for the creation, ex nihilo, of a huge mass of financial liquidity to acquire public and private debts, thus increasing deficits and the public debt: “Historical evidence teaches us that ’emergencies’ are the ideal breeding ground for an increasingly invasive action by states, leading to irresponsible and fragile societies to the detriment of freedom, security, and general well-being.” Maurizio Milano, “L’errore del socialismo di guerra per uscire dall’epidemia,” La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Apr. 17, 2020, https://lanuovabq.it/it/lerrore-del-socialismo-di-guerra-per-uscire-dallepidemia.
63. Beppe Grillo, “Reddito Universale: è arrivato il momento,” beppegrillo.it, Mar. 30, 2020, https://www.beppegrillo.it/reddito-universale-e-arrivato-il-momento/.
64. Guillaume Larrivé, “ ‘Contre la guerre civile, pour l’union nationale.’ La Tribune de Guillaume Larrivé, l’Opinion, Apr. 11, 2020, https://www.lopinion.fr/edition/politique/contre-guerre-civile-l-union-nationale-tribune-guillaume-larrive-215915. (Our emphasis.)
65. “Les services de renseignement s’inquiètent d’une radicalisation de la contestation sociale après le confinement,” Atlantico, Apr. 12, 2020, https://www.atlantico.fr/pepite/3588764/les-services-de-renseignement-s-inquietent-d-une-radicalisation-de-la-contestation-sociale-apres-le-confinement.
66. Jean Chichizola, “Les violences contre la police se multiplient dans les cités,” Le Figaro, Apr. 19, 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/les-violences-contre-la-police-se-multiplient-dans-les-cites-20200419.